Republican Party (United States) facts for kids

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Republican Party
Chairman Reince Priebus (WI)
President Donald Trump (NY)
Vice president Mike Pence (IN)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI)
House leader Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA)
Senate leader Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY)
Founded March 20, 1854 (1854-03-20)
Preceded by Whig Party
Free Soil Party
Headquarters 310 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Student wing College Republicans
Youth wing Young Republicans
Teen Age Republicans
Women's wing National Federation of Republican Women
Overseas wing Republicans Abroad
Membership  (2012) 30.7 million
Ideology Conservatism
Economic liberalism
Fiscal conservatism
Social conservatism
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European affiliation Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (regional partner)
Regional affiliation Asia Pacific Democrat Union

The United States Republican Party is one of the two biggest political parties in the United States of America. The other large party is the Democratic Party. The United States also has many other small parties known as third parties.

The Republicans are often called "the right" or "conservatives". The Republican Party itself is also known as the GOP, which stands for "Grand Old Party." The symbol of the Republican party is the elephant. This symbol was first used in 1874 in a political cartoon (pictured), by Thomas Nast.

The Republican National Committee is the main organization for the Republican Party in all 50 states. Reince Priebus is the current RNC Chairman. The Republican Party is not the same political party as the Democratic-Republican Party. The Republican Party is based in Washington, D.C. A mostly Republican state is sometimes called a "red state".


1874 cartoon in Harpers Weekly, first use of the elephant as symbol for the Republican party.

The Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854. It was created by the support of Francis Preston Blair. Its formation was based around opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which would allow each territory to allow slavery if they wanted to. It was founded by previous members of the Free Soil Party and the Whig Party. They wanted to stop the expansion of slavery because they believed that it was against the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Some founders wanted to abolish slavery everywhere in the United States. The first Republican candidate for president was John C. Frémont in 1856.

Photograph of President Reagan at a Reagan-Bush Rally in New York - NARA - 198556
Ronald Reagan is thought to be a "conservative icon" and hero.

As the Whig Party collapsed, the Republicans became the second major party (the Democratic Party being the first). In 1860 Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, was elected. For the rest of the second half of the 19th century, the country had mostly Republican presidents. From 1860 until 1912 the Republicans lost the presidential election just twice (non-consecutively to Democrat Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892).

Republicans believed in protectionism (the belief that raising taxes on trades with foreign nations would protect the U.S. economy) during the second half of the 19th century and during the early half of the 20th century.

After World War I, the 1920s had three Republican presidents: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. It was called the Republican Decade for that reason. Harding and Coolidge made a plan for the economy which lowered taxes, cut government spending, and regulated the economy less.

Near the end of the decade, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression was beginning. During the Great Depression, Republicans lost popularity and Democrats came into power and remained in power until 1953, when Dwight Eisenhower began his first of two consecutive terms as president. (He was re-elected in 1956.) Richard Nixon lost the election in 1960, but was elected president on the Republican ticket in 1968 and again in 1972.

Ronald Reagan, an actor and conservative political activist, was elected as president in 1980. He became the first Republican president who was a former member of the Democratic Party. This began a conservative era which would last until 1992. He served two terms and his successor George H.W. Bush served one term. Reagan renewed many ideas which had been left behind in the past, such as limited government in the economy and strengthening the military.

Bill Clinton (a Democrat) was elected president in 1992, and re-elected in 1996. However, a new Congress was elected in 1994, and Republicans gained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They voted against many of Clinton's ideas and proposed ideas of their own such as a line item veto and a balanced budget amendment.

The Republicans lost control of Congress during 2006. Democrat Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. The Republican Party has also gone against candidates of other political parties, such as the Libertarian Party and Green Party. House Speaker and U.S. congressman John Boehner was elected in the new Congress in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. In 2014, Republicans gained control of the senate and the house. Boehner resigned in early October 2015 and was eventually succeeded by Paul Ryan of Wisconsin in October 29.

Current Republican beliefs

Currently, the Republican Party is identified as conservative and right-wing.

Not all Republicans believe in all of the same things, but generally these are the things many Republicans support:

  • The 2nd Amendment (oppose gun control)
  • The death penalty for certain cases
  • The U.S. having a strong military
  • The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • A school voucher system (the government giving money to parents who send their kids to private school, in areas with a failing school system)
  • Oppose illegal immigration, but support legal immigrants
  • Capitalism, laissez faire or supply-side economics
  • Less government control of the economy
  • Less government spending
  • Lower taxes for everyone
  • Oppose government run health care
  • The 9th and 10th Amendments (the federal government should have less power over the states)
  • Abortion should be illegal in all or many cases
  • Oppose same-sex marriage, but not a civil union

U.S. presidents

Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait
President Abraham Lincoln

Republican presidents during the 1800s:

Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981
Ronald Reagan

Republican presidents during the 1900s:

Republican Presidents during the 2000s

Other famous Republicans

Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 7
Mitt Romney
John McCain official portrait 2009
John McCain
  • Spiro T. Agnew (vice president under President Nixon)
  • Jeb Bush (former governor of Florida, son of former President George H. W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush)
  • Jan Brewer (Governor of Arizona)
  • Dick Cheney (vice president under President George W. Bush)
  • Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey)
  • Thomas Dewey (presidential candidate in 1944 and 1948)
  • Bob Dole (presidential candidate in 1996, former Senator from Kansas)
  • Newt Gingrich (former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives)
  • Rudy Giuliani (former mayor of New York City, former presidential candidate)
  • Barry Goldwater (presidential candidate in 1964)
  • Chuck Hagel (a former senator from Nebraska, U.S. Secretary of Defense)
  • Dennis Hastert (former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives)
  • Sean Hannity (a well-known talk show host on Fox News)
  • Jack Kemp (vice-presidential candidate in 1996)
  • Henry Kissinger (former U.S. Secretary of State)
  • Nikki Haley (Governor of South Carolina)
  • Orrin Hatch (President Pro-tempore of the Senate)
  • Rush Limbaugh (a radio talk show host)
  • Richard Lugar (former senator from Indiana)
  • John McCain (presidential candidate in 2008, Senator from Arizona)
  • Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader)
  • Sarah Palin (vice presidential candidate in 2008, former Governor of Alaska)
  • Colin Powell (general during Persian Gulf War, Secretary of State)
  • Nelson Rockefeller (Governor of New York, Vice President)
  • Mitt Romney (Governor of Massachusetts, presidential candidate in 2012)
  • Paul Ryan (vice presidential candidate in 2012, U.S. Congressman)
  • Condoleezza Rice (former U.S. Secretary of State)
  • Karl Rove (strategist to George W. Bush)
  • Donald Rumsfeld (Pentagon secretary during Iraq War)
  • Mark Sanford (Governor of South Carolina)
  • Kenneth Starr (U.S. prosecutor of Democrat Bill Clinton)
  • Michael Steele (Former chairman of the Republican National Committee)
  • Ted Stevens (Former Senator from Alaska)
  • Strom Thurmond (former Senator from South Carolina)
  • Donald Trump (2016 Republican Party Nominee for President)

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